In 2005, the American Institute of Graphic Arts–one of the largest professional organizations for designers–changed its name to AIGA to distance itself from graphic design and orient itself toward the digital mediums of the future. Now, it’s back to embracing print.
First launched as an online magazine three years ago, AIGA’s Eye on Design has just published its inaugural print issue. It’s an ode to the art of physical magazine-making–and a gift to those who love to read them–from the die-cut cover to the tear-out-mail-in Proust questionnaire on the back page.
“It’s an experimental design playground, visually and editorially,” Eye on Design’s founder and director Perrin Drumm says. “Online provides a predictable visual experience; print allows us to break out of the model and create something special and artful.” (Former Co.Design staffer Meg Miller is also involved with the new magazine.)
The pilot issue had a loose theme surrounding the reveal of the magazine itself. The turquoise cover features the publication’s eyeball logo rendered as cut-outs that tease the issue’s contents. For a feature story about the rise of high-design erotica, the opening spread includes a close-up photograph of a nude woman’s chest and the following spread zooms out to shows the whole portrait in a collage of other images. For a bit of humor, the issue has a comic strip but instead of running it on consecutive pages, Drumm and the issue’s designer, Tala Safié, chose to break it up into eight parts and intersperse them throughout the magazine.
Going forward, Eye on Design plans to publish quarterly and will work with a guest designer for every issue to keep the visual storytelling exciting and tackle themes like the intersection of design and mental health, diversity, gender and sexuality, and politics–subjects that the website tackles already, but could be explored more evocatively in print.
“I want readers to be entertained, I want them to learn something, I want them to be surprised,” Drumm says. “I don’t think they need to agree or like everything they see, but I want it to be compelling enough to scratch that curiosity itch they have and to encourage them to turn page after page. It’s not a predictable reading experience and I want them to read the magazine from cover to cover.”
While it seems as if every mainstream magazine is folding, cutting its issues, or pivoting to video, Eye on Design might be the one publication that can sustain print since its audience–mostly AIGA members, professional designers, and design fans–holds the medium in such high regard. In fact, organization members at the Leader level and higher will receive the issue for free and other AIGA members will be able to buy it at a discount (the price has not been set). The magazine plans to finance its costs through online and newsstand sales, advertisements, sponsorships, and partnerships.
The pilot issue was distributed only to the AIGA’s conference attendees, and the first publicly available issue’s on-sale date is yet to be determined, though it’s set for sometime during winter 2018. Visit eyeondesign.aiga.org for more.